Monday, 17 October 2011

HISTORY AND MODERN SOUNDS

Absenthia are an Italian prog band from Vicenza that was formed in 2005. The line-up features Igor D’Aoconte (vocals), Alberto Saccozza (bass), Massimiliano Piazzon (drums), Enrico Baù (keyboards), Paolo Miotti (guitar) and Ferruccio Caoduro (guitar). Their music blends influences ranging from PFM, BMS and Le Orme to folk, Italian melody and prog metal in a very original, convincing way. The band has a strong theatrical approach with the operatic vocals of Igor D’Aoconte in the forefront. The history of Ancient Rome is the main source of inspiration for the lyrics of their debut album, the excellent self produced “Tenebrae Vincunt”, which was released in 2009.


The album opens with “Commentarii – De Bello Gallico VII”, a beautiful ballad inspired by the life of Julius Caesar and his assassination. The lyrics deal with the immortality of ideals and great achievements that can be reached only after death... “When I am nothing but ashes / You will understand the true reminders that weave time / The flesh can die but the dream will come back in your head / In my death is concealed the secret / You will inherit my eternity...”.

The second track is the aggressive “Atomica Achillea”. The Achillea is a kind of medicinal herb that the ancient Greeks used to treat wounds. Here uranium is compared to a medicinal herb: what might have happened if the most ferocious armies ever on earth had had atomic bombs? Perhaps just the end of humankind and the beginning of a new world of dreadful peace...


“Absira e la battaglia di Teutoburgo” is a complex piece, romantic and powerful at the same time, a love song set in the middle of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D. The character of the female slave Absira is a kind of metaphor for the pleasures of life that are wasted in the name of greed for power and money... “Absira silently dies in the twilight / The blood on her dress is like spilt wine... The flames are dancing around a dying love...”.

“Aria – Ricordi di un soldato” (Air – Souvenirs of a Soldier) is a beautiful ballad full of pathos and energy where a soldier remembers his past days and a woman... “Days never come back / The memories of a time that’s gone will fade away in the wind / But here inside me there’s still your souvenir...”.


“La danza dei miei Satiri” (The dance of my satyrs) is another great track, full of rage and despair for the ambiguities of life and the greediness of people. Then comes the fast, heavy marching beat of the next piece, the rebellious “Catilina e la congiura degli stracci” (Catiline and the conspiracy of the rags), which deals with the living hope of a man that fights against a corrupt class of politicians with a weapon called reason, without mercy. This track was inspired by the character of Lucius Sergius Catilina (108 BC - 62 BC), a Roman politician who attempted to ovethrow the power of aristocratic Senate...

In the dramatic, sensual “Amore e Psiche” heavy guitar riffs are counter pointed by fiery organ chords. The lyrics here are inspired by the tale of Cupid and Psyche by the Latin prose writer Apuleius. Next comes the dark, mysterious “Argonautica”, inspired by the character of Medea, an enchantress in ancient Greek mythology. The operatic approach of the singer here is more evident than ever.


“Spartacus” is a powerful track dedicated to freedom and to the dignity of people that die fighting in war because of the stupidity of dictators or politicians. It was inspired by tghe character of Spartacus, a famous leader of the slaves in the Third Servile War...  “Blood on the dust / Smell like ambition / That flies away from this joy / Theatre of death...”. The last track, “Lo schiavo infante e la matrona romana” (The young slave and the Roman matron) is a particular ballad that tells of a love story between a young slave and his older matron. The young slave was taken away from the house of her mistress and became a gladiator, but after many years he comes back to enjoy an ageless sentiment... “Livia was talking about her husband who never came back...”.
On the whole this is an excellent album. At the moment you can purchase it only from the official website of the band where you can also listen to some samples and download three tracks for free.

Absenthia: Tenebrae Vincunt (2009). Other opinions:
Chris “Seventhsojourn”: Folk, metal and the Italian melodic tradition are all fused into a darkly operatic whole, with Igor D'Aoconte's vocals occupying the same ballpark as Demetrio Stratos. Oh yes, he is that good. The album is a broadly conceptual work with the band's observations of the modern world presented in allegorical form. It's drenched in Classical mythology and several songs incorporate overlapping references to particular characters from the ancient world. Common threads that run through the album include heroes and dictators, love and war, freedom and slavery, but the real strength lies in the way these all come together... (read the complete review HERE).


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